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Monday, September 5, 2011

Maybe we ARE the Bizarro Universe


If you love Seinfeld... and don't we all, then you just might remember his 1996 episode, Bizarro Jerry, which supposes there is a parallel world where everything is (oxymoron alert) exactly the same, except opposite. There was a Bizarro Jerry, Bizarro Elaine, Bizarro George, Bizarro Kramer... and even a Bizarro Neuman.

  • Note: As Dummies.com --the company that brought us all those yellow and black 'Dummies' books to make us all feel equally stupid... not that there is anything wrong with that--says in its The Theory of Parallel Universes for Dummies: "The multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not the only one, but states that many universes exist parallel to each other. These distinct universes within the multiverse theory are called parallel universes. A variety of different theories lend themselves to a multiverse viewpoint. (If you are interested in more on this, click the link.)

Seinfeld's bizarro universe has everything "reversed" in some way. Heroes are villains, beauty is hated, ugliness embraced and nerds with pocket-protectors filled with pens make fun of 'normal' people. But really, is there a bizarro world? Well, if a number of physicists actually believe a parallel universe can/does exist, why not? Who among us 'normal people' care as long as it makes for good Seinfeld. And it does:

Jerry: Like Bizarro Superman ... who lives in the backwards bizarro world. Up is down, down is up. He says "Hello" when he leaves, "Goodbye" when he arrives.
Elaine: Shouldn't he say "badbye?"
Jerry: No, it's still goodbye.
Elaine: Does he live underwater?
Jerry: No.
Elaine: Is he black?
Jerry: Look, just forget the whole thing.


You know, I sometimes think we are probably someone else's bizarro world because so many things we used to value, today seem to be backwards. We embrace 'reality' shows by the hundreds (Fact: In 2000, there were 4 reality shows on TV. Last season, there were 320 of them--really!), fall for all things Kardashian, suffer political rancor and 're-electionitis,' and put up with outrageous politicians of all kinds while real problems become polarized and frozen.  

All of this, of course, makes for juicy media fodder, our anger at the outrageous, and great viewer ratings. We eat this stuff up. Beyonce's baby bump is a lead story. Sexting is news... and who was caught sexting is even bigger news. The Appalachian trail, which used to be for hiking, is now a punchline:

"Where did you disappear to last week Governor?

"I was hiking the Appalachian Trail."

TaDah!

The surest way to gain public attention is to to stand out... and wow, do we! Shop at Walmart, and if you dress 'right' you might go 'YouTube viral'. Cheat, lie, steal. Bitch, carp, complain... you are mainstream.
  • Lawsuit: Two lovely, delightful grown children, I'm sure, sued their mom for "bad mothering," because, they said, she failed to buy enough toys, "haggled" over the amount spent on party dresses and sent a birthday card that her son didn't like.
Even the 'hit' reality show, Desperate Housewives of Beverly Hills, knows how to boost its ratings by riding on the coat-tails of a tragedy. When the husband of one of its stars committed suicide, the news filled the Entertainment Today genre of 'exclusive coverage' programing for a week. Then the network announced--to satisfying media coverage-- that it would be running suicide prevention public service announcements during its showings. And while some were saying, "Isn't that thoughtful and wonderful," television moguls were saying, "When the world hands you lemons, make lemonade."
  • A very rich Malaysian with more money than he knew what to do with, just paid $5 billion for a 100-foot gold plated yacht. Its bedrooms are platinum and one contains a priceless statue carved from a T.Rex bone.  "It will never be topped," he boasted. 
Are we going crazy... or are we already there? What has happened to our values? Statistically, half of us used to be below average. Well, I'm thinking that today, at least 2/3 of us must be below average... a new world record!
      
Life is an emotional balance of what is happening, what we know, what we can do about it, and how we feel... but sometimes, I believe we are nothing more than a mixed up pot of people just waiting to be stirred.

Hey... wait a minute! We are are OUR OWN bizarro world... I'm sure of it.


PS: Lest I get too carried away, I really am an optimist-- with a touch of cynical sarcasm--who believes lots of good does happen, it just often gets lost in the media's weird demand for your attention... and our rewarding them by watching and caring for the wrong things. My comfort blankie:
  • A Los Angeles high-school senior whose good grades gave him an opportunity to compete in a unique free-throw contest, beat seven others to win a $40,000 college scholarship. Because of his skills, he was later granted a basketball college scholarship, so contest rules allowed him to take his prize in cash. But, the son of Ivory Coast immigrants said, "I've already been blessed so much and I know we're living with a bad economy," so he donated it to the contestants he beat. "This money can really help my classmates."
  • The Fresno County Schools Superintendent cut his own annual salary from $290,000 to $31,000. "If we face midyear cuts, I can have the money ready to go and it doesn't affect our employees.
Thanks, good examples. I needed that.

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